TV We Hate: Dragons’ Den

By Jim Morton

The sort of people that enjoy conducting job interviews are hideous, heartless human sharks with all the charm of an offal factory and about half the brains.

We all know these sort of people, the sort who are always at work early and say “nice of you to pop in” when you arrive. The sort who include their qualifications in their e-mail footer using bold Comic Sans. The sort who bang on about the value of their house. The sort of people who use the word ‘common’ to describe those less wealthy than themselves.

In short- the sort of people who probably read the Daily Mail.

Attending a job interview is vile enough, but (for anyone who isn’t a Jeremy Kyle-level heartless wretch) once you rise to a ‘boss’ type level and have to conduct them yourself, a whole new avenue of unpleasantness is opened up. A stream of nervous people walk in, you feel nervous with them, you empathise when they get things wrong and feel like you’re watching a bad comedian who you wish would just leave the room. This repeats about ten agonising times in a row so at the end you and your fellow interviewers are emotionally exhausted and bored to the brink of coma.

The whole process is terrible and should be replaced by some sort of raffle for everyone who meets the minimum requirements.

The reason said job raffles don’t exist is because not everyone shares this (entirely rational) hatred of the job interview process. Some people- the human sharks amongst us- actually enjoy the feeling of importance that comes with sitting across from a potential employee, feeding off their fear and nervousness, gleefully making copious notes when any stammer or uncertainty creeps into proceedings and generally acting like they are charged with appointing the new head of MI6 rather than a part-time car park attendant.

Which brings us nicely to BBC’s ‘wring some money out of a venture capitalist’ programme, Dragons’ Den.

The BBC have taken the horror of the job interview and turned it into a spectator sport where the viewer can experience the vicarious thrill that the enthusiastic interviewer craves – watching some poor bastard squirm and scrape in order to secure some cash to get their business up and running, presumably with the outrageous intention of paying their bills and feeding their family. Depressingly, the format is massively successful, watched by millions and franchised across the world.

I suppose the genius of Dragons’ Den is that they have taken a bundle of individually unpleasant raw materials and then finessed the horrible premise to a gleaming perfection of hatefulness.

After playing some queasy introductory footage of the Dragons (which look like especially charmless out-takes from the Dynasty credits sequence), the venture capitalists are subtly seated next to massive piles of cash as a stream of nervy, under-resourced entrepreneurs are paraded in front of them to be bullied, ridiculed and occasionally swindled.

Unless you turn up singing, then- for some reason- it appears to go quite well.

The whole thing is so degrading that in some ways it’d be easier to watch paunchy tourists waving wads of cash at dejected Vietmamese prostitutes- although you probably wouldn’t want Evan Davis doing a post match discussion on how it all went. In fact, the whole concept is almost chillingly familiar to anyone who was a fan of Charlie Brooker’s pre-Guardian fake Radio Times website TVGoHome, where in one prescient edition he imagines a fictitious series called ‘Wanking for Coins’ in which Roland Rivron tours the seedy backstreets of London persuading the homeless to ‘commit acts of self degradation in exchange for pennies’.

I can only assume the creators of Dragon’s Den had a subscription to said website and found it positively inspirational.

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If you don’t hate Dragons’ Den, the current series airs on Monday nights, 9pm, BBC 1

Jim Morton’s blog can be found at http://www.paper-jam.co.uk

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About Hilary Wardle
Hilary is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes for a wide range of websites, magazines and newspapers, including Buzzfeed, MSN, The Poke, Chortle, the Guardian and the Independent. She specialises in arts and entertainment, comedy, video games and viral content. Contact her at Hilary3@gmail.com.

One Response to TV We Hate: Dragons’ Den

  1. Bogdan says:

    Bravo Jim.I am glad that you told the truth.

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